Tape Backup vs. Igneous

A typical customer protecting 1 petabyte of data with tape can reduce their backup costs by 64% with Igneous - saving them over $218,000 per year.

Why Tape Backup Customers Switch to Igneous

Customers increasingly turn to Igneous to help them eliminate obsolete tape backup environments, reduce backup costs and to leverage the cloud as a target for data protection. 

While some clients choose to replace their entire tape backup infrastructure with Igneous, others leverage Igneous for NAS backup at scale, while retaining their tape backup infrastructure for structured data protection.  

If you've made a significant investment in tape infrastructure, but need to begin modernizing your data protection strategy - we can help.  

Built for Petabyte-Scale

Igneous is multi-threaded and infinitely scalable.  Our architecture means you'll never need to segment data to meet backup SLAs or hire more people to manage backups as your data footprint grows.  We support many multi-petabyte customers today and are happy to provide references upon request.

Fully Managed & Monitored

Eliminate wasted time swapping tapes and dealing with offsite storage.  Igneous is a fully-managed, software-as-a-service solution, meaning we will alert you if your backup fails and will constantly monitor backup, archive and restore tasks on our end, so you don't have to. 

Zero Hardware

Igneous is deployed via VM with no hardware needed in the data center. You can also deploy Igneous remotely, without ever having to set foot in your datacenter - allowing you easily implement Igneous in multi-site environments.

Storage Agnostic

Igneous can read from any on-prem storage environment and back up to any on-prem storage or cloud target, including cloud archive tiers. This flexibility allows customers to choose where they want their backup data to live and makes for incredibly simple backup to cloud workflows at enterprise scale.  

Rapid Retrieval of Data

Recovering critical data shouldn't take your team days or weeks.  Igneous writes backup and archive datasets to the destination of your choosing, including your existing on-prem storage infrastructure or public cloud targets.  Because of our real-time index and data transport optimization, we can pull that data back for you on-demand, nearly instantly.  

"The main driving factor for me was that our tape library, which we’ve had since before we started working here 11, 12 years ago, was not keeping up with the times. Our data needs to keep growing. The tape library is expensive to maintain and the TCO wasn’t what we wanted it to be."
- Mike Root, Director of Technology at Tippett Studio

Igneous Customer Spotlight: Tippett Studio

Tippett’s legacy backup solution, a combination of Commvault, Oracle ZFS, and a Spectra Logic tape library, had been buckling under the studio’s data growth in recent years. The tape-based solution was also causing a strain on their primary systems making it difficult for the IT team to meet SLAs for both clients and internal production teams.

Due to tape drives failing, they were often operating at only 50% of their tape drive capacity and were at risk of losing artist data. Eventually, the situation reached a point where the cost-benefit analysis was in favor of investing in a more scalable solution.

Read the Tippett Studio Customer Story




Media & Entertainment

This customer described their tape backup system as "untenable". They had no way to test tape backups to ensure they were viable and their tape infrastructure was struggling to meet their customer SLAs.  Igneous enabled them to eliminate tape from their environment completely - providing a faster and more reliable backup workflow for their critical data.


Financial Services

This customer was looking to eliminate tape from their environment with an index that would allow them to search over their backup data. With Igneous, they were able to eliminate legacy tape hardware, have a fully searchable index of all backup files and enable long term retention of data in the cloud.


Private Research Institution

This customer was facing performance issues with their tape environment. Retrieving data that was over one year old took two weeks to execute and one full time employee to find and manage the retrieval. Igneous integrated directly into their existing Qumulo and Isilon systems and gave them the ability to store backup and archive data on Azure with a simple and fast retrieval process.

Request a Custom TCO Analysis

We're so confident that Igneous will help you cut backup costs, reduce management overhead and improve backup performance that we'll prove it to you.  


Request TCO Analysis

Understanding the True Costs of Tape Backup

The real costs of tape as a backup solution fall into four key areas.  We break these costs down into a cost per TiB of primary storage protected per year so we can compare all backup options (tape, replication and cloud) using the exact same approach.

Tape Hardware Costs

The costs of tape drives, tape libraries, media servers and tape media add up.  With an assumption that tape hardware will depreciate over 5 years - we estimate the cost per TiB per year for tape hardware alone averages out to $60-600 per TiB of primary storage protected per year.  

Tape Software Costs

Tape backup software often charges on a variety of items: tape drives under support, backup clients, servers under support, compression licenses, primary storage capacity, extended retention periods and other add-ons. Our customer research estimates that tape software costs average $60-$540 per TiB of primary storage protected per year. You can find all the calculations behind these numbers in our published report here.

Tape Datacenter Costs

Because your tape backup infrastructure sits in the datacenter, there will be building costs and power and cooling costs to account for as well. Based on typical costs of a rack in the United States and average energy costs to power that rack, we estimate these at $2-$75 per TiB of primary storage protected per year.

Tape Management Costs

As a backup solution, tape is notoriously labor-intensive. Many enterprises hire an entire team of administrators just to manage the constant barrage of tape-related activities– swapping tapes in and out of drives, fielding restore requests, fixing failed backups, rebooting hardware, updating software, and coordinating offsite tape rotation, among other tasks – making personnel costs one of the larger costs associated with a tape environment.  We've outlined these assumptions in detail here, but they total up to a range of $29-$173 per TiB of primary storage protected per year.

The True Costs of Tape Backup
(per TiB of primary storage protected, per year)

Hardware Costs


Software Costs


Datacenter Costs


Management Costs


Total Cost per TiB per year



Backup TCO Comparison

A typical customer with 1 petabyte of data on primary storage is estimated to spend $338,944 per year protecting their data with tape.

This same customer will spend $120,832 per year protecting this data with Igneous, including the cost to back this data up to Azure.

Cut Backup Costs by 64% and Save Over $218,000/yr with Igneous

Download the "The True Cost of Backup" whitepaper or contact us if you'd like us to perform a TCO analysis for your existing tape environment.

We've run the numbers so you don't have to

Read our "True Cost of Backup" whitepaper for a deep dive on how backup costs stack up between tape, replication and other common backup options in 2020 and beyond.

Download Whitepaper

Outlining The Challenges with Tape

Tape backup veterans know the pros and cons of tape backup solutions - but in our countless conversations with customers on this topic - the pain usually falls into three major buckets.

Tape offers the promise of low cost backup and archive with seemingly unlimited scalability via low cost media.  The truth is that the low incremental cost of tape media is misleading and doesn't account for equipment costs, people costs and the slow performance of the overall solution.

High Cost

Total cost of ownership calculations for tape backup and archive workflows need to account for the full spectrum of costs, including tape drive & tape library hardware costs, tape hardware maintenance fees, third-party backup software costs, offsite tape transport, storage and retrieval costs, datacenter costs to house and power equipment and hardware and media refresh costs as new generations of LTO are released.

Labor Intensive

Tape is notoriously labor-intensive, and that additional cost needs to be calculated into your total cost of ownership for tape.  Some key labor costs to factor in include headcount required for installation, maintenance and upgrades of tape infrastructure as well as headcount required for daily operations including managing tape inventory, fixing failed backups, updating software, coordinating offsite tape rotation and executing on retrieval and restore requests.

Increased Business Risk

As scale increases, customers often have to make compromises to accommodate tape performance bottlenecks.  The most common compromises include segmentation of datasets to allow multiple tape backup jobs to execute concurrently, increased headcount to manage increasingly complicated tape backup workflows and, in extreme cases, reducing the frequency of backups from weekly to monthly, because they can't complete in the agreed upon SLA window.  These compromises increase business risk - often causing customers to have to decide between less frequent backups or forgoing data protection completely on portions of their data.

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